A Parent's Guide to Addiction

How can a parent help when their child has an addiction? Many families find that a child’s addiction is tearing them apart. What can troubled families do?

Is it Selfish of Parents to Take Care of Themselves?

The best way for parents to truly help a loved one suffering from addiction is by starting with self-care.

Parents are consumed with anguish, fear, and suffering when a family member struggles with addiction. They have reason to fear for their loved one’s life. The anxiety can lead to sleepless nights, resulting in tremendous fatigue. The fatigue can lead to poor performance at work, poor decisions at home and to poor choices regarding their own health. As a result, parents’ capacity for supporting a loved one is compromised when they are willing to let their own health decline.

It is not selfish for parents to put their own needs first. Instead, this allows them to stay intact and uphold a supportive environment for the addict. A parent must find what helps bring some joy or at least some satisfaction into their life and they must work at being a complete person. Taking time for one’s self is vital. If the home has been filled with drama and fights, relaxing activities outside of home are helpful. Making the effort to have a meal at a nice restaurant or visit a good friend’s house can bring back a sense of normalcy and hope. Family members should stay social without allowing their entire being to be wrapped up in the addict’s life. Other practices of self-care include physical activities, pursuing set goals and eating healthy. In doing so, they are building the strength needed to care for the addict/alcoholic.

Parents and family members may find it helpful to attend meetings at Al-Anon, an organization that gives families of addicts a place to comfort and to support each other. Al-Anon is a valuable place for families to learn what to do and what not to do. It provides them with steps in learning how to support the addict while practicing self-care. Professional help is available through Sober Living in Los Angeles.

Don’t Enable an Addicted Child – Support Them

Parents try many ways to help and to show their love for the addict while they are drinking and using. They may beg the addict to stop what they are doing and to seek treatment. They may also become angry and shout ultimatums, but lashing out in anger or tearful cajoling rarely leads to long-term solutions. However, the best way be supportive is by remaining calm and empathetic.

Parents often believe they can show their love and support through enabling behavior, such as covering for the addict. Parents may have told their loved one’s school or workplace that they were absent due to sickness, when, in fact, they were drinking or using. They may help ensure that drug paraphilia are hidden to visitors. Sometimes they will make excuses on the addict’s behalf to justify their absence from social gatherings. In many cases, the addict will come to parents for money. Though it’s often hard to accept, this is enabling behavior that only allows the addict to continue using or drinking.

It is essential for parents to understand that the addict must be held responsible for his or her own behavior. While this may go against parents’ instincts, the other option of protecting them from consequences only enables their addiction. By letting the addict experience logical, real life consequences for their actions, parents can be more sympathetic to the root cause rather than reacting with anger or nagging the addict to do what’s right. Parents should avoid criticizing the addict or offering suggestions to solve problems that arise. Instead, it is more helpful to reiterate to addicts that they are in control and ask them how they plan to handle the situation.

It is hard for parents to act against their instincts, making a conscious choice not to help the addict solve their problems– but without enabling the addict, he or she will have a better chance at a successful recovery. Parents can learn the tools for this and find support from a professional organization specializing in addiction.

Seeking Professional Help

When seeking help for their loved one, parents should ask how to be supportive, listening carefully to how the addict responds. The parent may learn that the addict feels depressed, or that they struggle at work or school and don’t know why. There can be many issues that led to the addictive behavior in the first place; it is not always just a matter of acting out or partying.

The addict may use a moment of confrontation to verbally attack and blame parents for the things they do. Parents should refrain from arguing with the addict, instead letting them talk or shout until they are done. Parents must be clear about their own actions and boundaries. Being tough in this way is not unkind; it is a special, necessary way of being kind. A parent would be wise to seek professional support that can teach them how to do this.

Supporting a family member with an addiction is difficult. Often, the addict does not want help and when they agree to get help, the process involves hiccups and setbacks along the way. Professionals from Sober Living in Los Angeles assist families with helping a loved one accept treatment. They help families deal with a loved one’s addiction by teaching them communication skills, how to practice self-care and offering healthy ways to support one another.

After Withdrawal

A detox treatment may be necessary for a safe withdrawal from drugs. Detox treatment provides necessary medical care while helping the addicted person prepare for the hard work of treatment. Medical and psychiatric diagnoses will begin after withdrawal.

During the detox program and the subsequent diagnosis, further treatment is determined and an appropriate plan can be made. Medical treatment may be needed if a condition outside of addiction is diagnosed. Many addicts will also focus on changing their behavior using a 12-step system or other behavior-based system.

 

Treatment Within a Residential Community

If an addicted loved one has already unsuccessfully tried a rehabilitation program while living at home; they may need treatment in a residential setting. In this environment, addicts’ issues can be assessed, diagnosed and managed. Conditions such as depression or bipolar disorder can make recovery more challenging if an addict is dually diagnosed. A residential treatment facility offers a stable environment as a safe place to practice skills that help manage any diagnosis.

In a residential facility within Sober Living in Los Angeles, addicts receive individual therapy from psychiatrists, doctors and other professionals. They can also attend group therapy, where they will find support from other people dealing with similar issues. Within the residential treatment facility, they will develop coping skills to stay sober and to deal with their dual-diagnosis. During treatment, counseling for the whole family is available. Family members and spouses can learn how to make their home a safe place for the addict to be sober and to use their newly acquired skills.

While the addict is still in the extended residential treatment facility, the treatment team will work with them to determine what else is necessary for their recovery. The recovering addict may need vocational counseling in order to find a new job, or academic support if they are back in school. This extended treatment time allows residents to find extra help that is needed. Before returning home, it is helpful to plan ahead by identifying needs that may arise, mapping out a support plan and preventing future problems where possible.

To support a family member in recovery, parents must respect the direction given to them and contact the addict in the way that is prescribed by the treatment facility. They must strike a balance between loving, gentle and firm. An addict may rebel against the facility during some phases of the treatment, so it is crucial for parents to cooperate with the facility as well. It is counter-productive for those recovering to enlist their parent or family against the facility.

After Treatment – Sober Living Community

Recovery from drug addiction is a process that requires long-term dedication. Sober Living in Los Angeles, California provides an extended community in recovery for an addicted loved one to learn these necessary skills. After completing treatment, the addict returns to the same world where their problems developed and begin a new way of life.

An extended sober living community can help with this adjustment. Residents can talk about how to deal with issues they’ll face. They can go on short outings to practice, then return to the safety of the facility. These outings may also include overnights at home to practice their new skills with their family. They may engage in their preferred form of social or recreational activities. As part of the adjustment, new problems can arise when the addict begins to practice the learned skills in the real world. A house mentor can make sure the addict understands that there will be challenges, assuring them that they can try skills out, then return to refine them and figure out how to improve over time. Practicing new behaviors in small increments provides new ways of communicating and self-care.